Straight & Level 12 February

BA takes its tea to new heights

Tired of the laws of thermodynamics standing in the way of a decent cuppa, British Airways (come on, who else?) has started offering a new altitude-resistant blend of tea to its customers.

Let’s spare you the tedious discourse on vapour pressure and the Clausius-Clapeyron equation. The upshot is that water’s boiling point decreases by about 1˚C for every 935ft rise in altitude.

Black tea demands water at 100˚C, but during cruise the cabin pressure is typically set at 8,000ft equivalent altitude, which means the kettle starts whistling at a tepid 91˚C.

Tea specialist Twinings’ senior buyer Mike Wright says the reduced pressure and humidity “affect the functioning of the taste buds, making things taste different”.

Therefore, the company’s scientists have come up with a blend of Assam, Kenyan and Ceylon tea intended to counter the problem. BA insists the tea, being served on board

from February, will “taste as good in the sky as it does on the ground”.

BA is supposed to be taking delivery this year of its first Boeing 787, the design of which allows a lower cabin altitude and a higher boiling point, although this is admittedly a more capital-intensive way of making your Rosie Lee a bit less Pony and Trap.

“This is your captain speaking. We have just reached our infusing altitude”rexfeatures_8740c.jpgTaking the piston

Tempted to think ‘elf and safety is sometimes taken to daft extremes? Take a look at this clip from a video about a restoration project on an 18-cylinder Curtiss Wright radial piston engine.

A creaking powerplant, bellowing smoke as it whirls and shudders into life on a test stand that looks like an open shed; observers standing only metres away… what could possibly go wrong?

To get the full effect watch the video at and skip to 26:10. Despite the German commentary, it’s worth turning up the sound.

S+L_grab.jpgSpy mystery

Intriguing headline of the month on Arabian Business’s website:

I don’t employ spies – Qatar Airways boss.

News missile

Red faces all round on Budgie News with our revelation of India’s plans to procure an Advanced Media Combat Aircraft. Will bugged celebrities be queuing up to buy one to strike back at their tabloid tormentors? As Peter Martin points out: hadn’t we better warn our reporters covering the Indian air show?

What the DHL?

Pots and kettles and all that, but we thought we’d finish with a headline from

DHL launches Boeing 737-400 Cargo Airbus.

Now that’s one way of hedging your bets.


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